I seem to have a nasty little habit of self-neglect. This is something that has become glaringly obvious in the past few weeks, as I’ve renewed my commitment to sobriety. Emotional, substance, mental, behavioral, the whole lot of compulsive and addictive behaviors are packed neatly into a treasure chest of addiction, no more to be separated and looked at individually as if one where somehow different or better or less worse than the other. They are stored, shelved, not in plain sight but not hidden away, and the things that remain are my thoughts, my mind, and my tendency to refuse that which will make me better.
My wrist is still sprained from when I got door-checked on my bike last May. A sprain that could have taken less than two months to heal has now controlled my life for ten months. I can’t do a proper downward dog or pushup and though these are seemingly small issues compared to the larger, more life-threatening ones that I have faced, they are issues that speak volumes to the way I see and treat myself. I can convince myself that if I don’t look at it, don’t put a ton of pressure on it, and make small changes in the way I use it, the sprained wrist will heal itself and all will be well in the world of yoga, life and recovery. This is the furthest thing from the truth, as any good doctor will tell you (and did tell me, ten months ago). It needs to rest. Be stabilized. Only slowly should it be put back into use and with plenty of rehabilitation.
I had laughed at the doctor when he said rehabilitation. It’s a wrist for fuck’s sake! I only use this thing for downward dog and pushups!
That was a lie though because it appears that I use it for plenty. Writing this blog requires my wrist. Driving a car requires my wrist. Grabbing my wallet from my backpack to pay for cheap and not-very-good coffee at school requires my wrist. Taking notes, drying my hair, eating froyo, snuggling Sauce and kitty, all of these things require my wrist. It turns out the case is not that my wrist sprain hasn’t healed over the past ten months. It’s that I keep spraining it, over and over again, as if I were to sprain it enough times it would become immune to pain. Like I am the strongest woman in the world, and the only one who doesn’t need to stabilize and rehabilitate a sprained wrist.
Mr. Man has been telling me since I flew off the bike and into the middle of the street that I need to wear one of those braces, the kind you wear when you are a kid and learning how to rollerblade, or old or kind of old with carpel tunnel. “Stupid brace,” I thought, laughing at him, “No, I will just use this.” I wrapped it with silly gauze, a bandaid on a gunshot, and proceeded to re-sprain my right wrist for the ten following months. But isn’t that how it goes?
We can only spend so much time participating in devastating behaviors until it no longer makes sense. I realized this in yoga the other day, as I struggled through chataranga propped up on my knuckles, like some bleeding warrior with one last thing to prove. I thought, What the fuck am I doing? It doesn’t make sense that I would even attempt to put pressure on the sprain until it had healed properly. At some point I decided that it would heal just fine as long as I manipulated the way in which pressure was applied. Such manipulation is only good for using addicts. And even for them, it’s just more wreckage.
As I mentioned, I’m renewing my commitment to sobriety, to recovery, and subsequently, to life. There was a lull, and looking back, probably a year and a half now where recovery has not come first. My primary purpose as not been to be sober and help other addicts/alcoholics achieve sobriety. If I am to really make amends to myself for the years of pornographic, alcoholic and compulsive behavioral destruction, then I must focus on that which will create the space for amends. I must remain in the recovery world, focused on that which will keep me sober. I must take care of myself, even if it means wearing a hideous brace that is fuzzy and sticks to everything, especially velcro – which a surprising amount of my things seem to have. Which I didn’t notice until I started wearing the stupid brace.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that if I am to stay sober — if I am to walk on this earth with the grace and integrity of which I know myself to be capable — then self-care, even in the most simple of forms, must take the shape of me actually caring about myself.